Customs and Excises

On this web page you can find more information about the impact for economic operators in the field of customs, excise and VAT, but it also informs about the initiatives taken at the level of the Federal Public Service Finance.
In the referendum held on 23 June 2016, the majority of the people in the United Kingdom (‘UK’) presented a positive opinion on the termination of the EU membership (with 51.9% voting in favour).
On 29 March 2017, the British Prime Minister Theresa May initiated the ‘Article 50 process’, which was the formal start to the United Kingdom’s exit process from the European Union (‘EU’). The negotiations on the divorce started on 19 June 2017.
Brexit negotiations will pursue a phased approach. The first phase of negotiations should aim to:
  • provide as much clarity and legal certainty as possible
  • ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU
An agreement on a future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be concluded once the UK has become a third country. The second phase of negotiations will entail preliminary and preparatory discussions on the framework for that future relationship. This second phase of negotiations can only be launched when the UK and the EU27 have made sufficient progress with some specific issues such as financial settlement, citizenship and Ireland.
The two year timeframe set out in Article 50 TEU ends on 29 March 2019. The UK and the EU27 can unanimously decide to extend this period by another two-year period.
Impact on companies
Customs formalities will be reinstated from the moment the UK leaves the EU and, as a result, the internal market. From then on, free movement of goods between the UK and the EU shall cease to apply.
This will result - inter alia - in the obligation to:
  • Draw up and lodge a declaration for each import and export transaction,
  • Verify documents and the goods that have been imported or exported,
  • Settle duties and charges, if any,
  • Apply commercial policy measures,
The Belgian General Administration of Customs and Excise calculated that the number of import declarations will increase by 14% and the number of export declarations by 47% due to the Brexit.
What is understood by customs status of goods?
Goods brought into the European Union have a customs status. The financial and economic implications associated to the entry of a specific good into the European Union, depend on the customs status of that good.
There are two possibilities: either it are Union goods or non-Union goods. Union goods are goods:
  • that are wholly obtained in the customs territory of the Union, or
  • that have been brought into the customs territory of the Union and have been released into free circulation, or
  • that have been obtained or manufactured in the customs territory of the Union only by using goods mentioned above.
Non-Union goods are goods other than the Union goods mentioned above.
A customs debt arises if an operator imports non-Union goods that are put into free circulation or placed under the temporary admission procedure.
The customs debt is established by applying the tariff concerned on the customs value of the goods. The tariff depends on the CN code (Combined Nomenclature code) and the origin of the goods.
The financial implications and impact on the flow of goods may be reduced by certain authorisations and status. In the part “Facilitation” you will find more information.